South Florida Sunshine



Today we continue with part 4 of our 5 part special photo walk feature of Key West as presented by our friend, photographer, designer, and blogger Lynda Quintero-Davids.  Join us as we share Lynda’s inspiring viewpoint in this installment entitled: Key West: Shipwrecks, Shells, Squares, & Sunsets.

While putting together this series this week, I’ve learned about all the industries Key West has thrived on – some of which were: fishing, turtling, sponging, pineapples, cigars and pink gold: shrimp (from the GULF). One of the most surprising factoids I discovered was learning about how Key West was once the RICHEST city in the United States. How did they achieve such wealth & status? Back in 1828, Key West thrived on the salvaging of shipwrecks, which was known as the wrecking industry…

Photos above I captured at Mallory Square and edited on

“Long established trade routes came close to the Florida coast and the reefs just seven miles offshore of Key West. Stormy weather, or a captain’s inexperience with this treacherous area, could easily cause ships with valuable cargoes to founder just off shore. As a result, wrecking and salvaging soon became the island’s primary business and its citizenry became wealthy on the proceeds. Storehouses and chandeliers abounded, and people came from all over to bid on the valuable salvaged items. Between 1828 and the 1850s, Key West was considered the richest city, per capita, in the United States.”

(Learn more about the history of Key West here.)

The Shell Warehouse at Mallory Square was a great little find because for our past three anniversaries, we’ve spent them on the Florida shores (Key Largo, Naples, and now – Key West). I’ve been collecting treasures of coral, starfish and shells from our trips. This shop – by far – has had not only great prices, but a wonderful selection – I may even turn the photos into coastal wall art… (click to read more and see the rest of Lynda’s photos for this segment)

For more information about planning your Key West activities as well as booking them please just ask me either by leaving a comment, by email, or on Twitter. I would be happy to help!


Key West: the Family Friendly Side

For many people Key West represents drinking, parties, and adult worldly pleasures.  Most certainly there is plenty to please adults with the nightly pub crawl and adult venues all over the island, but Key West has much to offer family members of all ages as well.

Daytime is family time!  Young children and teenagers alike enjoy playing in the sand at the beaches.  If you’re visiting Key West with your entire family I highly recommend the beach at Ft Zachary Taylor State Park.  The 54 acre park offers swimming and snorkeling right off the beach.  Drop a line into the water and fish on the west side of the park.  Biking and nature trails offer a chance to explore the native tropical plant life and watch the birds as they stop for a rest on their migratory trek from South America.  Take a tour of the Civil War era fort or take a lunch break at the best beach restaurant café in Key West.

There are water sports for all ages.  For younger children and those who are not very wild at heart there are paddle board and kayak tours.  More adventurous family members will enjoy all the opportunities to hop on a jet ski, fly skywards by parasail, or ride the waves on a kite board.  As a group, your entire family can enjoy a White-Knuckle Thrill Boat ride.

Excursion providers like Fury offer glass bottom boat tours of the local reef system.  You can also get up close and personal with the marine wildlife on a diving or snorkeling charter.  Several companies also offer dolphin watching tours and excursions to the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson.

Once you’ve had a full day of adventure, your family will be ready to unwind at Mallory Square as all of Key West celebrates the setting of the sun.  Be sure to arrive a couple of hours before sunset.  When you do, you will find artisans and performance artists of all manner.  Enjoy the antics of jugglers, tight rope walkers, trained animals, and much much more winding up with the grand finale as the sun drops into the Gulf of Mexico.

Granted, Key West after dark is not for the young ones, but after a full day of activities they will all be ready for a good night’s sleep.

What I personally think is the best part of visiting Key West with the family are all of the resort destinations on the island.

I recently visited the properties of the Southernmost Hotel Collection and was very impressed at how much there was to do right there on the property.  Located where Duval meets the Atlantic Ocean, the Southernmost offers four great properties for families to enjoy.  They have two historic bed and breakfast homes for mom and dad to enjoy some quiet luxury. Southernmost on the Beach offers a private beach, beautiful gardens, private pier and beach-side pool.  The Southernmost Hotel is on the upper end of Duval Street and just across the street from Southernmost on the Beach.  It offers two pools, a Jacuzzi, full-service concierge and access to the beach.  All of the properties are a mere stone’s throw from all the action on Duval.  No matter what time of year you visit, you’ll find the best deals on a hotel with resort amenities at competitive prices and no resort fees.

I had the pleasure of spending time with the SoMo’s Activities Director, Boomer McFall, as he provided tons of family fun for the guests.  People were actually getting out of the pool to come and play Wall Hookie with Boomer at the Southernmost Hotel.  Then we crossed the street to play the Newlywed Game poolside at Southernmost on the Beach.  The kids staying at both properties were coming up and asking when they would get to play sharks and minnows again. No doubt Boomer is probably one of the busiest and most popular guys on the property, and he’s constantly coming up with great new ideas and things to do.  If your family is staying at any of the Southernmost properties, I doubt you’ll ever hear “I’m bored” during your stay!

So, bring your family and come enjoy the jewel of the Florida Keys, the tropical paradise we call home; Key West.

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